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tv   [untitled]    May 13, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PDT

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boys with metal vent as if it explained anything. it didn't between dusk from the and dawn saturday he was ready to blow the -- up. do you want some of this? oh , no, yes oh , no or yes , i will be damn, i will be damn, i will be damn. [applause] >> this is called someone else's child. and i guess it's a sort of an imagined conversation with a took place in a real moment in my father's hospital room in a matter of weeks before he died. my father is my foster father and there was always in my life this level of awkwardness because i was not biologically his own son.
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and he and i never got to have the conversation that i imagined here on page in this piece. so, there is a lot of truth in it. and here we go. someone else's child. >> i'm going to write a poem about you, i said. shall i tell the truth or make something up. what would you write about me. i'd write about the small things like catching my first perch on a cane pole and slapping you up side the head with it. it was the last time i fished you know that you cussed the water black mad. i never touched a fishing pole again. why would you want to write that? silence. do you remember when mom tried to teach me how to ride a bike?
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no, he said, let me hear it. why i can't ride a bike. i out weigh my mother by 50 pounds though her effort to help find my balance is more colossal than any man. my father root indeed pockets watches us at a distance like we are on a channel he'd like to turn. that's a sad poem, he said. cant you write nothing happy? not with you in it, i said. but i ain't never hit you, thumped our head once or twice. mostly, i'm stuck remembering what we never did, share something. play catch, even. was not athlete. tried teaching you how to drive. sitting next to me on the freeway holding the steering
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wheel sdont count. well ain't had no one to teach me none of those things neither. did you ever hold me when i was a baby, i asked? gnaw, afraid i'd drop you sides you were someone else's child didn't think we would keep you long. thought she was take you back to your people. if you wrote a poem about right now, he said, about us here in this room, how would it go? >> last rights. while sitting with my father waiting for his end white tooth sprouting from his wintry branches i watch the hospital clock. see us men watch one another and
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not look at each other for an hour and 15 minutes. it never occurred to either of us to even say, i love you. all you write, he said, are sad poems. what would you have me write? the truth. your poem ought to be called, with no seat and go like this. he did the best he could with what he had and he ain't had nothing accept the blues. >> [applause]. >> the book was published this year by the university of georgia press. it is available at the back of the auditorium this afternoon. it is called blood ties and brown liquor. and he is also been the finalist for the 2006 poetry prize.
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please, join me in welcoming mr. sean hill. [applause]. >> i want to read from blood and brown liquor today. this book is about my home town in georgia. it's also where [inaudible] is from. and i started researching the history of [inaudible] and sort of fell into the history of black people there because it was not taught in school. so -- in order to write about the history i had to invent a character to explore this history. the character's name is si loss wright. >> first poem i will read is titled silos write at age 71914. it's about silos follows a
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fishing riggel in the shallows. he describes the line in his tablet as much pride in that line as a man and his son. he giggles and goes on. the next letters come easy. with this he will have more than a mark to bind. rambling across the page again and again in messy rows along it flows until he goes off the page's edge. he smiles. he's surprised to hear when his mouth opens. that's mine. so, this really lovely book that georgia put together for me has great painting on the cover. a painting of mcintosh street in georgia painted in the 1940's by a man, frank stanley herring.
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i saw this painting after i had written this next poem and after i talked to my grand mother and she mentioned this street to me. i didn't know it existed because by the time i was coming up the black business district was gone. and the past few years i think they erected a monument to it. nigger street. 1937. mcintosh street the sign reads like the apple. red but not red delicious red but like red on red eyes gravy on grit the and stop lights and green and yellow. and red like those powders and syrups kept behind the counter at blocks pharmacy. red. and red like the stripe on richard's barb bar pole and the
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stitches on button holes on over alls of those coming to down on saturday. solid red at the blue moon and red like the eyes of the late staying patrons on sunday mornings. and in church the red of the edge of white pages in a black bound bible coming together, closing. red as a congregation rises. [applause]. >> this references a lynching. the lynching of 2 couples in monroe, georgia occurred july 25, 1946. it's now referred to has the morris ford lynching. insurance man, 1946. silos you might not be here april. ain't none of us never promise said tomorrow. if you died you would need a will. that way you control your nickel
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when you are gone. get your ducks in a row you might not be here come april. yeah, your policy is up-to-date and we will pay say if you lose an arm at the elbow at the mill. if you died you need a will. double pay for accidental deaths we have you down. your wife will not need to borrowo. you might not be here come april. being alive is enough to get you killed. do you hear about the folks in monroe? if they hang you from a tree you need a will. your folks won't have to worry about a meal with this insurance when that day of sorrow come. silos you might not be here april. if you died right sudden you'd need a will. >> this next is titled no one's real high button.
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>> beat, beat, beats here the sound of the train on the georgia road the claps of wheels at the gaps of the joints of the rails the beat of the hammer on iron andan vil at the smithing. shaping shoes for mules and horses and the red metal and water is the train's wiftel. the last word returns like watermelons here with summer heat. beat with the hammer. beat when he, a boy, broke to the garden at the county jail at night when the beat men were asleep. there's were the sweetest. the dull that you had before the crack beneath the heart and move on to the next. he moveod to woman and settled on one. and busted her with finality. he measured time raising the sweetest watermelons for a time
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and time served he returned. a man. and he lay on the tracks of the georgia road cradled by the rails. heart stopped. >> all railroad abandoned. between across ties. trees grow. a fairel pig roots below branches. [applause]. >> poem is about a ham. >> uncle john. that was the year grand daddy thomas died. left the family worse than broke. uncle john stole a ham from the meat market. he was 17. lost his taste for it locked up 14 years. ham, cured and earth bred sliced with the fat hanging on. yellow sunshine on a white plate. the ham bone cuts crosswise.
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a dark eye all in the skillet making aggressive for grits. lost his taste for all things salt much the ocean he has not seen. woman and man. he don't ever want to see no more ham on his plate. hates pigs. hard for him. time off for good behavior. they didn't hold him to the last 6. he is a hog farmer. only eats beef and chicken and turkey. fish, turtle and rabbit. squirrel, possum and coon and seasons greens with smoked ox tails. can't raise white folks for slaughter. [applause] >> for those of you who have not heard this in person a big beautiful surprises, she speaks
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at tremendous authority of feeling. and very uniquely agile intelligence. >> we are the memory of that place without measure. that filled all space that never was and ever will be. that place existing as the perfect note yet making no sound. holding all colors inside a light that was nothing but darkness. we are the memory of a breath that could not be but was. a breath that's well to bubble which bursts and collapsed. me are the memory gestated in day that lasted eons as the universe birthed heat, light, rock, ice, mineral, song, us. we are the impossible made flesh
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creating infinnate possibilities of hope or endless kazisms of despair inside the prayers which we have become. [applause]. this is called the fifth dying i deal with the wars away but the wars here. >> anny was one of many girls my son mentioned in passing and grew up when she became the fifth intent days where he more than once broken bread or tossed a joke or waves down or waived past. she, the fifth, in 10 days who's blood splat erred the walls and dripped down the walk. this one in front of her home celebrating turning 23, a shining star her brother said.
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my heart, her father moneyed, a friend my opened to her sister known since the girl was 12 and he 11. and now each day i watch my son suck in his tears and stiffen from the pain that thickens as the pile of his dead grows beneath his heart. deep inside his bones ache. and will not let him sleep lest those faces fill his dreams. i try to massage love into his neck and shoulder as we talk anguish from his locked muscles we don't speak of airny his pretend wife and confident. he reminds me it is not summer i
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should be real it can only get worse. he dresses in white and leaves my home as the key turns the bolt, i smell the mossy scent of morning seep from under the designer purfume he left in his wake. [applause] >> this is, i have several poems in various solder's voices. some that i made up and some that exist this is for jessica lynch, war memories. i have forgotten myself. who i was, i cannot now know who i have become is a stranger i have forgotten myself there are other things to lose in battle eyes and guts, other sacrifices
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before life. vilost myself. i am not who i was before this war, i am not she who no longer dares to be my mother is so happy with this worn body returned home. we pretend that i am as whole as i look. but at night when i stair through the dark at the hidden image in the mirror i cannot lie to the stranger i see. i have forgotten everything. except my affection for children, my service to country and my insatiable fear. [applause] >> sizing up the cost of war. >> what is left but the shoes. shoes scuffed and torn, no
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longer having feet to carry them, shoes empty now. work boots bearing mud from the last field he had plowed with his father. empty now. red sneakers with white stripes brought back fwr america by her oldest son given to her youngest, both of them immediately rung outside kicking the soccer ball back and forth the older rustling the youngster's head after a goal, empty now. heavy and white, they were the first pair of shoes she ever walked in. the first she had learned to untie so that she could riggel out and once again feel the sand cyst between her toes, empty
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now. his work boots were resoled many times next season he would have bout a new pair or perhaps the season after that. but these old ones darkened from the oil had become supple and familiar. they knew his feet took his ankles and kept them strong. empty now. she had smiled when he offered her the embossed letter pumps made for her in italy from the pattern he carefully traced around her narrow feet long toes tapered in perfect symmetry. empty now. regulation boots, smoothed by the sand salt crystal seeming to be so much of the desert they had walked. the inside soles showing
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imprints of thick, heavy feet. empty now. and these, handmade slippers that were the only a grand mother silk floured kiss that never touched the ground because as her father's favorite she was still carried every where. empty now. the red heals that she saved for the brown loafers passed down the sandals strapd and tied all empty now. the flesh gone. the blood gone. the legs gone. all gone. [applause] >> everyday another infantary man choses not to fire his gun.
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everyday a solder refuses to pick up his weapon. evidence another matisha member boundaried post. everyday another fighter deserts instead of returning to the battlefield. everyday another youth conscious objects to the very idea of war. everyday another ordinary person offers love instead of apathy, hope instead of despair, the cause of peace grows stronger. it is already begun. it's long trek into our hearts. tell take many more years to cover our streets, a host of decades to feel our roads, our access, our country side but itit will come like the clearest of
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mornings after the harshest storms like the soft soothing rain after the years of drought, it will come. hundreds of millions of people will stop feeding the beast of war. will stop crafting armor and boiling machines with their children's blood sacrificed. thousands upon thousands of solders will turn away from their leaders doomsday aspirations. refusing the burden of being a destroyer of homes. rejecting the obligation of being the killer of brothers, spurning the mantel of murderer of children, decimator of families, poisoner of the earth. one day it will happen. on this tiny planet, flushed
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with blues weeping in reds opening green and fresh. tell be quiet on this day. so quiet it will pass almost unnoticed. because there will yet be hunger and floods and fire. there will yet be storms and despair and disease. there will yet be struggles and madness. but when that morning come thousands upon thousands will get up, millions inside millions will stretch out and face the challenges of the moment with our tongues wrapped around the idea of peace. feel it's weight, hear it's song, remember in vent, discover, recreate it's rhythms as we begin to walk the long trail of healing. sew it to grow on it be it to
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see it, peace. sew it to grow it, be it to see it, peace. [applause]. >> flying inside the evening sky. i don't know the name of the blues that shadow our past. one is sweet and light a cool meringue. another sharp but still. a third thick presses down upon the rest. colbolt. a blue that hums deeply a harmony of ferm ment denying stars shining inside the cosmos. forever blue where life dies and is reborn. an eternal blue that
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exists above the storm. a blue that doesn't suffer discord that would smile if it had a mouth. embrace if it was armed. comfort if it grew heart. instead it arcs a concert of blues hovering over the earth in an endless ocean of impossible quiet. thick with blue beyond blue. a blue that disappears when clutched in the fist, a blue invisible and solid. thank you very much. [applause] >> please, welcome camill. >> that was a great reading and you changed up my play list. >> start with a poem i read after i learned that the rate of valum prescriptions in baghdad
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sky rocketed after the u.s. entry into that space. the title of the poem and it is the words the probably roost which is bitter. biting, cutting, sharp. bitan. once, she was a fearest dark girl who's tongue skipped top of meeting. teeth, teeth top of mouth like double dutch with the word that ment her thoughts cutting circles through the day. no chance she'd be the one to trip and break rhythm. then she could sit all day on her porch memorizing the trees. she could be still. the birds, winged through leaves
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like they didn't know anyone could hurt them. once she believed steam curled off asphalt when summer rains stopped with a prophecy. she believed this looked the way she would feel after touching a man. her body clean. and black. and right. something beautiful and painless rising up. i was talking with a friend about that idea of leaving places. and leaving places behind the title of this poem is stolen directly from this conversation in which he said there is a particular state that he would never go back to. >> that's a state i will never
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go back to. for doug. >> once i got over the problem of not knowing how i couldn't go back to not curbing my tires. it took a while to get past forgetting to register street cleaning hours and love, love was my handicap. though i had no permits to hang from my rear view so i collected 7 or 10 slips i had every intension to pay off except i skipped town for the summer. and returned to find the guy staying in my apartment toss them. i'll admit i was relieved not to face these expensive reminders of the girl i have been how stupid i was about life in the city. and as i finished school, was moving south for good this time. and as i lived then in a state of great anticipation.
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the potential of a record never acrossed my mind. but now, on account of those parking tickets i can't go back there with a car. though everyone who loves me know i love that tiny window each october in the south nub of the state you can't reach without driving. i missed it once and waited a whole year regretting the lost chance to track the lyndon leaves tiny migration. the next fall, refusing to endure that state of desolation again i asked everyone who loved me to please meet me just south of the border. we ordered green mussels and popcorn shrimp. the shrimp beat the mussels to the table. i drank for pleasure